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Peer Reviewed Literature

Finding peer-reviewed articles in databases

Library databases such as CINAHL, Academic Search Complete, or Social Sciences Full Text are the best places to locate peer-reviewed articles. 

Most databases provide a limiter or check-off box that allows you to limit your results to peer-reviewed journals.  Be careful, however!  Not all articles within a peer-reviewed journal are peer-reviewed articles.  Editorials, commentaries, essays, letters to the editor, and book reviews are often found in peer-reviewed journals.  These are not peer-reviewed.

TIP:  Peer-reviewed articles will have an abstract and a list of references.


How to determine if a journal is peer-reviewed

  • If you are searching a library database such as CINAHL, use the peer-reviewed limiter.
  • Google the journal home page; this information is almost always located on the publisher's website.
  • Ask a librarian for help.

FAQs about Books

1. Can I use a book as a source?

University presses (such as Johns Hopkins University Press) produce academic books, many of which have been reviewed by other experts before publication. These sources are considered scholarly.

2. Is my textbook peer-reviewed?

While textbooks are academic they are typically not considered peer-reviewed sources. 

3. When should I use a book instead of an article?

The advantage to scholarly books is that they are comprehensive and they provide an overview as well as detail on research, data, and expert opinion. They are great background reading and a way to get a sense of the "big picture." Keep in mind, however, that a long time elapses between the research conducted for a book and the book publication. Supplement this by finding current research.

NOTE:  Libraries are purchasing more and more books in eBook format so remember that when you are searching for a book. If you need help finding eBooks, ask a librarian.